England to snub overseas-based players

Thu, 02 Dec 15:04:00 2010

The Rugby Football Union have announced their "absolute intention" not to select overseas-based players for England following the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

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England currently have three members of their senior elite squad - Jonny Wilkinson (pictured), James Haskell and Tom Palmer - playing club rugby in the French championship.

RFU chief executive John Steele has warned that any players based outside of England following the next World Cup would only be selected for national duty under "exceptional circumstances".

The RFU's significant statement of intent is designed to give England the best chance of winning the World Cup when it is staged on home soil in 2015.

The RFU have stressed that England players remain free to sign for French clubs after the next World Cup if they wish. But Steele has written to England players and their agents to provide advance notice of the risks they will be taking by leaving.

In the letter, Steele writes: "As things stand we have a number of elite players in various squads and clubs outside England, principally in France, and you may be considering that as your next career move.

"If that is the case then I wanted to let you know that it is our view that we are best served by having our England Elite Player Squad and our England Qualified Players all playing in England at English clubs.

"We feel that enables our whole Elite department, including team management and coaches, as well as our technical, medical and sports science teams, to work more closely with EPS players to ensure that you are supported in the right way. We further believe this is easier to achieve working with the Premiership and Championship clubs with whom we have excellent relationships at all levels.

"So I would like to confirm that it is our strong intent, from the end of Rugby World Cup 2011 through the RWC 2015 cycle, to select our Elite Player Squads at all levels entirely from players playing at English clubs where at all possible.

"I would stress that this is not a change to our selection policy itself, players remain entirely free to play outside England should they so wish, but you need to understand that it is our absolute intention that we only select from overseas clubs in exceptional circumstances. It is for you and your agent to decide if you are willing to take that risk."

PA Sport

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